Skip to content

Managing fatigue using a fatigue risk management plan (FRMP)

Fatigue, we’ve all felt it; it’s the feeling of weariness caused by prolonged or excessive mental exertion.  Employee fatigue presents risks to health, safety and productivity. In organisations working with major accident hazards (MAHs), the risk that fatigue poses can be particularly severe, as was shown by the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), fatigue from shiftwork and overtime is one of the key human factors topics to be addressed by onshore major hazards industries. Recognising the importance of this issue, HSE has published Managing shiftwork: Health and safety guidance (HSG 256 ISBN 0717661970) as an aid to all industry. The EI Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM) has also identified fatigue as one of its priority issues for attention and has already developed some resources to help the industry understand and deal with fatigue.

In 2006, EI published Improving alertness through effective fatigue management, a well received and used document describing fatigue management strategies.  However, since then industry good practice has moved away from fatigue management strategies to fatigue risk management plans (FRMPs), whereby fatigue should be managed as part of the safety management system (SMS), in the same way other aspects of health, safety, environment and productivity are managed.

Newly published EI Managing fatigue using a fatigue risk management plan (FRMP) supersedes and is the spiritual successor to the 2006 publication.  It recommends a more comprehensive approach to managing fatigue in a risk-based and systematic manner, and for fostering shared responsibility between an organisation and its employees.

The publication is divided into two parts. Part 1 introduces the causes of fatigue and the FRMP concept.  Part 2 provides guidance on the design and implementation of the FRMP.  In whole, this publication:

  • Provides a source of reference for site-level managers directly responsible for managing fatigue.
  • Defines and describes the elements of an FRMP that complies with industry good practice.
  • Provides managers with practical step-by-step guidance on how to build, implement and maintain an FRMP.

This publication is relevant for all major hazard industries, including onshore and offshore operations. Organisations in the early stages of implementing an FRMP will find this publication particularly useful, whilst those with an FRMP in place should also benefit as a means to compare their existing FRMP against good practice.

How to access this publication

Managing fatigue using a fatigue risk management plan (FRMP) (1st edition, 2014, available as a free download, or priced hard-copy publication.  Supersedes 2006 Improving alertness through effective fatigue management)


Other fatigue resources

Sleep contracts research - EI Research Report: Viability of using sleep contracts as a control measure in fatigue management
2006 research report into use of 'sleep contracts', laying ground work for the use of FRMPs.

Recommended Practice 755 Fatigue Risk Management Systems for Personnel in the Refining and Petrochemical Industries     
This API report provides guidance to help manage fatigue risk.  It was developed for refineries, petrochemical and chemical operations, natural gas liquefaction plants, and other facilities.  However, it should be noted that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a statement asking those who may wish to apply the findings of this report to remain cautious and to ensure they comply with UK standards. 

RR446 - The development of a fatigue / risk index for shiftworkers
This report describes the work carried out to revise and update the HSE Fatigue Index (FI). Extensive changes have been made to the previous version, incorporating recent information relating to a variety of issues including cumulative fatigue, time of day, shift length, the effect of breaks and the recovery from a sequence of shifts. In addition, a review has been carried out of trends in risk related to shift work, and this has enabled the final version to incorporate two separate indices, one related to fatigue (the Fatigue Index) and the other to risk (the Risk Index). While the two indices are similar in many respects they diverge in others. The main differences are due to the different trends with respect to time of day in fatigue and risk. The index has been implemented in the form of a spreadsheet, the design of which has incorporated feedback from users of the previous index.

EI Human factors briefing notes resource pack: No. 5: Fatigue
To improve industry's understanding of key human factors issues, the EI’s Human and Organisational Factors Working Group commissioned a series of 'briefing notes'. Each two- to three-page leaflet: commences with a definition; provides case studies, checklists and references; and explores solutions to address the issue. Of particular interest to supervisors and managers of major hazard installations, they provide a first step in raising awareness and guiding users to further information. Briefing note 5 provides an introduction to fatigue.

EI Workshop on fatigue
In October 1999 the Institute held a workshop on the health and safety aspects of fatigue affecting both the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. The proceedings include a summary and introduction, as well as the following papers written by academics: An Introduction to body rhythms, shiftwork and fatigue; Sleep, mood and performance in relation to offshore shift patterns; Adapting to night shift on oil-rigs and elsewhere: implications for health and Sleep-related vehicle accidents.

Additional references on fatigue are provided in the Top ten human factors issues listing.